Stewart’s stunner sinks Saints and sends Homers through to Final

Action on the Showgrounds pitch on Saturday morning during the Clough Rangers FC v Ahoghill Rovers semi-final match. INBT 50-937H
Action on the Showgrounds pitch on Saturday morning during the Clough Rangers FC v Ahoghill Rovers semi-final match. INBT 50-937H

Two stunning second half strikes from Ryan Stewart sealed Homers passage into the O’Kane Cup Final at the expense of a spirited Saints side who for long spells put it up to Homers.

Four minutes later with virtual their first attack Homers got the opening goal. Ryan Stewart fed David McWhirter down the left and he whipped the ball over for Gary Bonnes who controlled and fired low into the bottom corner to keep his rich vein of form going. Ryan Stewart then blazed over as Homers went in search of a second goal. The game was confined to a midfield battle after this with neither Ryan Martin in the Homers goal or Brian Martin in the Saints goal having in saves to make as Homers finished the half a goal in front.

Then totally against the run of play Homers hit their second goal. A long ball out of defence from Ryan Martin was cleared to Ryan Stewart all of 40 yards out and on the volley rocketed the ball into the top corner of the net to give his side a 2-0 lead. This didn’t knock Saints as they kept attacking and should have got a goal back almost immediately when Stephen Sexton saw his header well saved and then Liam Cassley fired wide from the rebound. With 25 minutes to go Homers hit Saints with another sucker punch with a third goal. Ryan Stewart curled a brilliant free kick from 22 yards round the Saints wall giving Brian Martin no chance. With six minutes to go Saints got a goal their play merited when Ryan Wilkinson slipped in Stephen Sexton who fired low past Ryan Martin. In the dying second David McWhirter could have put a bit more gloss on the result for Homers but his chip went over the bar as the game finished 3-1.

Clough Rangers 5 Ahoghill Rovers 1: Division One Clough ran out convincing winners in this semi final to seal a final place. Rovers started the game well and took a surprise lead on 12 minutes when Alan Jones blocked a clearance from Clough and the ball fell to Phil Aiken who smashed a volley past Colin McCaughern in the Clough goal from 30 yards out.

This fired Clough up and they drew level on 25 minutes when Johnny McCloy raced down the right and crossed to the back post where Jordan Leighton found the net with a looping header. Just before half time Clough got their noses in front when Jonathon Rice played a short corner to Dean Magill who showed a lovely piece of skill to skip past two men before drilling the ball home from an acute angle. Clough soon got control of the game again and made it 3-1 on 56 minutes. Johnny Clarke and Aidy McDonald combined to set Richard Dunlop free and he played a brilliantly weighted through ball into Dean Magill who lifted the ball over Andrew French for his second goal of the game.

Soon after Clough added another goal when Steven Gage rose highest to head home a Dean Magill free kick from the left. Late on Clough killed the game off with a fifth goal when Aidy McDonald crossed for Richard Dunlop to slot the ball home and complete the scoring.

Division One

FC Antrim 1 Carniny Rangers 7: Carniny put more daylight between themselves and the chasing pack with this convincing win against struggling Antrim who after a decent start to life back in Division One have started to slide down the table.

Dean Dunlop gave his side the perfect start as Carniny led by two goals after ten minutes. His first came after Alan Norton’s clever pass left the inform striker with the task of getting past the on rushing goalkeeper to score, which he did with ease. The second came just two minutes later when an Alan Telford pass split the home defence and Dean Dunlop fired home from 10 yards. Ten minutes later Jonny Spence got his first of as he picked up the ball wide right and hit a shot which the keeper was only able to help into the net. Michael McQuitty added a fourth in the 22nd minute with a back post header before the home side spurned the chance of a goal from the penalty spot. Jonny Spence again found the net in the 38th minute and what a goal it was. The Carniny man allowing Michael McQuitty’s cross to drop over his shoulder before catching the ball on the volley into the top corner of the net.

Kevin Dennison’s half time team talk spurred his men into action in the second half and it was a much brighter FC Antrim side which took the field after the break. With eight minutes left to play their performance was rewarded when they got a goal from Ryan McFadden but this only served to awaken Carniny from their second half slumber.

Substitute Darren Kidd beat the offside trap to net his side’s sixth before Jonny Spence completed his treble in the dying minutes of the game.

firmus energy BSML Division Two

Newpark Olympic 5 Cullybackey Olympic 0: Newpark started the day looking to return to winning ways after last week’s shock defeat to Seven Towers and they began the brighter of the two with Stephen Brown firing wide in the opening minutes. Newpark then doubled their lead on the 64th minute when James Brown crossed for Dee Killen who rounded the defender and slotted home into the corner. James Brown added a third from a Robert Crawford cross that the Cullybackey defence failed to clear, and another goal came moments later when a Jack Armstrong free kick found the head of Andy Smith to make it 4-0. With nine minutes to go Dee Killen made it 5-0 for Newpark with a long range effort to complete the victory and stretch Newpark’s lead at the top of Division Two.

Galgorm Blues 1 Glenravel 4: Glenravel playing their first game in four weeks looked sluggish at the start as the home side took the game to them with Jake Armstrong and Scott Drummond constant dangers but they failed to threaten Johnny Reid in the Glenravel goal. On 20 minutes Glenravel hit the opener with a quick counter attack. Caolan McCambridge released Conan Dunne down the left and he drove forward before squaring the ball across the box for Cormac Gordon to fire home. Galgorm drew level 10 minutes later when Lee McCaughern delicately chipped the ball into the net beating Johnny Reid and two defenders in the Glenravel goal. Just before half time Glenravel regained their lead when Darren Burgoyne fired home from the spot after Gordon Dillon was fouled.

The home side kept pushing forward as they looked to get an equaliser, but they were hit with a third goal on the break when Gordon Dillon and Conan Dunne combined to set up Brian Paul Donnelly to score. Glenravel controlled the game after this and added a fourth goal with two minutes to go when Caolan McCambridg drove forward and drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards out to seal a great victory for Glenravel.